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Type 2 diabetes | 3 min. read

What is type 2 diabetes?

Type 2 diabetes is when your body can’t make enough insulin or when your body can’t use the insulin it makes correctly (insulin resistance). As a consequence, too much glucose stays in your blood. The job of insulin is to unlock the doors to your cells and let the glucose in.

What are the symptoms of type 2 diabetes?

Type 2 diabetes develops gradually, so you may not even notice the symptoms until they become obvious. This is dangerous, as high blood glucose levels may already be damaging your body.

Some of the signs include:

  • Thirst and a dry mouth
  • Frequent urination
  • Tiredness
  • Blurred vision

What causes type 2 diabetes?

The causes of type 2 diabetes are not fully understood, but it is linked with being overweight or living with another chronic conditions like obesity, as well as with family history and ethnicity. While genes have a role to play, your lifestyle choices are also very important. A healthy diet and regular exercise will reduce your chances of developing type 2 diabetes – even if the condition runs in your family.

Diabetes risk assessment

Are you at risk of developing diabetes, or do you have it already? Around 50% of people with type 2 diabetes do not know they have the condition and risk developing serious health complications as a result. Being middle aged or older, being overweight or having a family history of type 2 diabetes all increase your risk of developing the condition. Knowing your risk and getting screened early are simple steps towards a longer, healthier life.

Take the type 2 diabetes risk test

Diagnosing type 2 diabetes

If you suspect that you may have type 2 diabetes, see your doctor. There are several tests that you will need to take to diagnose type 2 diabetes. The initial test is a fasting (nothing to eat or drink for 8 hours) blood glucose test. An HbA1C test may also be taken. This will measure your average blood glucose levels over the past two to three months and does not require fasting.

If your blood glucose levels are above normal, but do not confirm type 2 diabetes, a glucose tolerance test may be taken. Your fasting blood glucose level will be measured, after which you will consume a sugary drink and have your levels measured again two hours later.

Learn more about insulin, blood glucose and their effects on your body.

Living with type 2 diabetes

If you do have type 2 diabetes and manage your condition well, you can expect to live an active and independent life. But, you will need to make changes to the way you care for your health and plan carefully for certain activities and occasions.

Diagnosed early, type 2 diabetes can be controlled with healthy eating and exercise. If these are not enough to control your blood glucose levels, you may also need to take GLP-1 or insulin treatment.

Learning to balance your diet, physical activity and blood glucose levels and being able to adapt to different circumstances will help you live life to the fullest and avoid serious health problems. Getting the right information and support after your diagnosis is your first step towards better long-term health.

If you are living with or caring for someone with diabetes, there are also steps that you can take to help them adjust to life with this condition.

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